By Francis Joseph Newsday
After almost two years of investigation, the Bob Lindquist report on the probe into the controversial $1.6 billion Piarco Airport Terminal project was handed over to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mark Mohammed SC yesterday. Mohammed will now determine which public officials are to be charged with corruption.
The evidence, which is contained in a large file, was presented to the DPP by Supt Maurice Piggott, head of the Police Anti-Corruption Squad, following a meeting yesterday attended by Mohammed, Karl Hudson-Phillips QC, Special Adviser, Lindquist and Piggott.
Newsday learned that the file contains systematically-identified evidence of fraud and the names of those involved who could now face very serious charges. The DPP, according to reports, has started to peruse the file and is likely to give instructions shortly.
Although Mohammed remained unavailable yesterday, Newsday was told that the DPP would take days before he issued any instructions to the police. Sources indicated yesterday that very "big" names were involved.
Police officers investigating the Piarco Airport project have reportedly discovered that more than $100 million were stolen, largely through overpricing of material and the irregular bidding process in the award of contract prices. The probe into the Piarco project began in 2000 when former Attorney General in the UNC Government Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj established the anti-corruption squad.
Lindquist, a Canadian forensic accountant, was hired to investigate the project. He submitted a preliminary report to the then Attorney General on December 7, 2000, four days before the general elections.
In that report, Lindquist concluded that the airport project was a fraud on the people of Trinidad and Tobago and a clear abuse of public funds.
The probe under Maharaj called on then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday for more funding in 2001, but this not forthcoming. Eventually, Maharaj's call for investigations into corruption led to his dismissal from the UNC Government on October 1, 2001.
The Integrity Commission summoned Lindquist to "clear up" certain matters pertaining to the investigation, but that did not materialise, as the UNC Government did not respond to the request for more funds and, in addition, Lindquist needed the consent of his client (which was the Attorney-General, then Kamla Persad-Bissessar) to return to Trinidad to appear before the Integrity Commission.
It was only after Patrick Manning became Prime Minister that Lindquist was contacted in January by the succeeding Attorney-General Glenda Morean and brought back to Trinidad to continue the investigation.
Since his return with another forensic accountant Hans Marschdorf, Lindquist completed Phase One of the investigation.
The police have raided several business places and seized documents and have also obtained court permission to investigate bank accounts. They interviewed several persons in recent weeks including former UNC Finance Minister Brian Kuei Tung.
As the probe drew to a conclusion, Northern Construction Limited which is owned by Ishwar Galbaransingh, filed a constitutional motion last month aimed at stopping the investigation, and for a return of documents seized by the police. That motion will be heard in the Port-of-Spain High Court this morning. Galbaransingh is currently in England.
There were reports that the police were planning to lay the charges against certain persons without consulting the DPP. But Mohammed wrote a letter to Commissioner of Police Hilton Guy informing him of the convention of consultation and advising the police of the DPP's role in matters of "public interest".
|NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 this material is distributed without profit or payment to those
who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material
from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. |